|Photo by ActionVance.|
How often do you do something you don't really want to do because you feel obligated to other people? Whether it's sticking around at a party when you really just want to go home or keeping quiet about some subject you think needs to be talked about, we all do it.
That's why we should all read this Vice article called Why You Should Stop Trying to Please Everyone, By Me, An Autistic Woman with Madeleine Ryan being the autistic woman who wrote it. She describes her experience as a person who is both autistic and antisocial, just doing whatever the heck seems right to her without trying to balance and account for everyone's feelings.
Basically, as she puts it, "By virtue of being autistic, I’m highly likely to find myself inconveniencing people with the truth."
I am partially horrified and partially inspired.
The horror comes from the fact that, if we want to have friendship and community, we have to consider the feelings of others. Caring about someone else and their feelings is kind of a core principle of being in a relationship. This means thinking about who is around when you bring up someone's drug problem and going to their wedding or art opening, smiling, and saying nice things, even if you are bored out of your mind.
Truly doing whatever you want, whenever you want, no matter who is around, is selfish and breaks a community apart pretty quickly.
To be clear, I am not horrified at her - she is welcome to do whatever she wants and seems very aware of the consequences of potentially alienating everyone in her life and is fine with it. She can go forth and live her life. I am just horrified to think of doing that myself. I am not antisocial. I need community and friendship and love.
The inspiration, on the other hand, comes from that low-level release of obligation that might make it easier for me to honour my own needs. Sometimes, for example, I have no problem leaving a party when I'm tired or just feeling done, while other times I sit in a circle of people who are idly chatting, dying of sleepiness, and can't bring myself to say goodbye.
This is where she makes a very good point: "Socializing when you’d rather not means missing out on an opportunity to care for and get to know yourself. And the relationship that you have with yourself is the longest lasting, till-death-do-you-part relationship that you’re ever going to have."
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